What do you think is the main obstacle preventing Chief Information Officers globally from attaining their goals? According to research, it’s the lack of available technical talent. Today, software engineers are in high demand that considerably exceeds the supply. In fact, it’s the most highly demanded professionals in the world.

The world's most in-demand professions


Therefore, it is vital to make the hiring process as smooth, slick, and clear as possible. Knowing the software developer levels will help you on your way. In this software engineering levels guide, we will cover all details.

What Are Software Developer Qualifications?

Software engineer experience levels can be divided into three grades: junior, middle, and senior. Some classifications also distinguish a software engineer’s entry-level. This terminology is applied to better understand and determine the degree of qualification and respective responsibilities. By knowing the developer levels, a recruiter can set more reasonable expectations for junior vs senior and entry-level vs mid-level specialists. Besides, this distinction improves internal communication and enhances the interaction between customers and vendors. According to our experience, collaboration with clients who understand the software engineer’s levels of competency becomes smoother and more efficient. This article analyzes programmer levels of experience by the following characteristics: technical knowledge, skills, daily duties, and communication with the team.

The Value of Levels

In general, software engineering levels help both employer and the employee as they create clear expectations, thus eliminating misunderstandings. Knowing the software engineering qualifications of potential employees help the company to benefit as that helps to avoid conflict. Except for employers who use levels because it helps them, employees also get an advantage. The main reason is that it provides clarity to employees’ career paths.

Entry-level developer

The entry-level programmer is usually hired as a trainee. Entry-level software developer mostly possesses only theoretical knowledge without any practical experience.

Trainees have little or no participation in real development. Entry-level software engineer just makes the first steps towards coding professionally. Ultimately, the entry level engineers already possess minimal ability to implement real projects.

Talking about the technical knowledge of entry-level developer, you should know that trainee is usually limited to using IDEs as text editors for coding without using their additional features. They often have to consult the documentation and also they seldom deal with APIs. Trainees are also unfamiliar with any frameworks and have little idea of the database. Also, it is clear that the average entry level software engineer salary is lower than the salary of professionals of other levels.

Junior developer

Beginners want to move to the next level as soon as possible. Therefore, they compensate for their lack of experience and the possibility of mistakes by their high motivation and energy.

Key technical skills of a junior software developer:

  • Efficient navigation and operation of IDEs by using a taskbar;
  • Knowledge and skills with the most frequently used APIs;
  • Basic knowledge and skills with popular frameworks;
  • Familiarity with DB design techniques, ACID properties, and transactions. Ability to write simple statements to retrieve information from databases;
  • Knowing at least one programming language;
  • Professional experience with at least three platforms.

Daily duties:

  • As a rule, juniors are tasked with the least complex jobs, with little effect on the final product.

Teamwork and perspective:

  • Juniors certainly need to elevate their skills. Therefore, junior and senior programmers usually work together, with the latter acting as mentors. Juniors’ teamwork should be focused on staying engaged and absorbing the team’s knowledge.

Middle developer

By leveraging their skills and professionalism gained after three or more years of experience, junior programmers can attain middle programmer levels. Although proactive and resourceful, these specialists may still lack expertise and the ability to reflect on their mistakes. Mid level software engineer salary is higher than the salary of junior specialists and among requirements to them are:

Key technical skills:

  • Considerable experience with IDEs allows them to remember the shortcut keys for typical operations, which speeds up their work;
  • Deep knowledge of the main APIs;
  • Tech-savvy with frameworks, mid-levels are able to write clearer and shorter code;
  • Solid skills in managing databases. Middles can create normalized DB schemas while considering the queries to be issued. They are proficient in using database views, triggers, stored procedures, and user-defined data types;
  • Understanding of functional programming and ability to implement functional concepts in any language;
  • Deep knowledge of platform functioning and experience with more than four platforms.

Daily duties:

  • While mid-level engineers are not usually responsible for highly complicated jobs, they may be entrusted with designing certain pieces of the application or decomposing larger sections of work.
  • Teamwork and perspective:
  • Usually entrusted with routine tasks, middles can fulfill their duties with lower supervision. They actively cooperate with other team members and understand development cycle scenarios. By analyzing the results of occurring issues, they can avoid them in the future.

Senior developer

Possessing deep knowledge and thorough experience, these specialists are already able to mentor their peers. They are also familiar with the business domain they support. Their expertise may even expand to the spheres of overall marketing and business development. Senior software engineer salary is significantly higher than junior developers and middle developers have.

Key technical skills.

Solid expertise that allows writing custom macros that optimize the workflow;

A sr. software engineer has written libraries to enhance functionality or automate processes without writing a code for them;

Ability to create their own custom frameworks;

Excellent experience in database administration, operation, and index optimization. Thorough knowledge of a database structure and familiarity with the database maintenance features.

A senior software developer is adept in functional programming and uses concurrent and logic languages such as Erlang and Prolog;

Professional experience with 6 platforms or more. Ability to create debuggers and other tools to enhance the platform.

Senior software engineer responsibilities.

Seniors can be entrusted with multifaceted responsibilities that go beyond coding. They develop technological solutions and coordinate the team’s workflow.

Teamwork and perspective.

Senior developers are independent workers that provide guidance. They possess excellent soft skills to manage senior and junior relationships, help team members, and maintain a balance between the team and the client.

Read also: Full Stack Developer Salary

Software Engineer Titles

The various developer levels just describe skills that are required for a certain position but do not necessarily accurately describe what jobs are tied to them. Every level has a number of developer job titles that are connected to it that include the duties and software developer job requirements expected from you.

Trainee-level titles

Intern Software Developer: Considering the fact that trainee-level software developers aren’t acknowledged professionals and are in the process of exploring the basics, they get offers to have internships within firms and companies.

Junior-level titles

Junior Developers: At the initial level of software development, a junior software engineer is a real frontline programmer that gets actual programming tasks to implement.

Mid-level titles

Software Developer: Such experts occupy forward positions and are concentrated on coding the application as well as on designing the architecture for the application and framework.

Software Engineer: Software engineers are professionals who are good at the overall picture while holding the same positions as software developers.

Senior-level titles

Senior Software Developer: In fact, this role is almost the same as the software developer. The difference is that software developers have more experience and thus they also keep an eye on their mid-level collegues.

Senior Software Engineer: This position means the supervisor role for other software engineers.

Leader-level titles

Team Lead: This professional serves as a project figurehead, who understands the base level programming. The role of team lead is to oversee the project.

C-Levels: Corporate C-level leaders comprise the positions as Chief Information Officer, Chief Engineer as well as other executive rol

How to Pick the Right Developer for Your Project?

This classification of the software engineer levels will navigate you through the search for talent. However, even knowing the software developer level description, our customers often ask how to find the right specialist for a specific project. The tips below will help you get a programmer with the proper experience levels.

  • Clearly define the project goal and identify the software engineer levels needed to attain it;
  • Consider the budget and the timeframe. A junior programmer will cost less than a senior engineer but will need more time for training;
  • Compose your team competently. Make sure to have a senior programmer as a leader who can properly organize the teamwork and select the right platforms and technologies for project completion;
  • Look for skills and abilities rather than job titles. The real experience a person has is more important than a title they acquire.

We hope that now you have a deeper understanding of software engineer levels. Consulting trusted experts, such as Dedicated Teams, will ensure that you have a competent and efficient team that will benefit your business.

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